Dependable Erection

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What a waste of time

Panhandling ban to begin July 1
"Please avail yourself of all the social services this county has, and not put yourself in harm's way standing in traffic," said Chairwoman Ellen Reckhow.

Unless of course you're waiting for a bus.
Then it's OK to put yourself in harm's way.

8 Comments:

  • Right on. While I disagree with you on many issues, this is a straight-out war on free speech and a war on the poor.

    Please protect us in our two ton behemoths from the appalling sight of poverty!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:52 PM  

  • The next time a beggar bothers me, can I give him or her your phone number instead? Or better, have that person wait outside your home for $3.00?

    How many beggars is "too many"?

    What are we telling ourselves when it's "okay" to wander the streets begging for money to spend on alcohol or drugs?

    Do you like being interrupted on the sidewalk
    1. once per walk
    2. twice per walk
    3. more than three times per walk

    If it's okay to beg for money, will you make a pledge right here and now to carry $3.00 on your person at all times? Because, you know, as you put it, beggars have a right to ask you for your money.

    If a beggar gets $3.00 from 10 people on Main Street, should he stop and let the other beggars have a chance, or be "entrepreneurial" and just "go for it"?

    What's the proper etiquette for giving out cash to more than one beggar at a time? $1.50 each? $3.00 each?

    Is it better to be begged for money before or after walking out of a fine restaurant?

    Can I beg for money just for fun? I could use $3.00 at about almost any given moment.

    Is there a "Do Not Beg" registry I can sign up with? I can already control my junk mail and even some unwanted phone calls and spam. Shouldn't I be allowed to tell people NOT to beg from me as well?

    While we're wasting our time and money interrupting our stroll with numerous cash handouts to beggars, are we negating the work that local social agencies and charities are trying to do for and with the homeless and the mentally ill? Do we undercut their efforts at modifying negative behaviors like begging when we "just this once" hand over that $3.00?

    I dare you to answer all these questions.

    Because I think begging is not free speech. I think begging drags down the value of public spaces and sends non-beggars back to their cozy homes. I think begging is simply bad for business, especially restaurants and bars, two places I like to go to in Durham. Begging keeps people on the street when they can be enrolled in a program or training or therapy.

    Begging is a public nuisance. Period.

    I am willing to pay taxes to help people who feel that they need to beg for money. This is a social problem we all share in. But begging is not a good solution.

    I understand we have bus stops that suck in Durham. I also understand our culture places too much importance on the automobile over the social and personal benefits of good mass transit. But taking these frustrations out on a reasonable anti-begging ordinance (one that remains to be seen whether anyone enforces it), is counter-productive to any effort to make this town a better place.

    I have an idea, if you like the spectacle of beggars roaming around Durham so much, why don't go out there and give them some of your money?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:10 AM  

  • Holy Christ. You could just say, "No" like i do.

    Or if you feel like having a chat, you could direct people to one of the many volunteer agencies in town that work with homeless populations.

    Just because you don't want to have begging in your face does not make it a criminal activity.

    Have you ever slept under a bridge, or asked a stranger in a strange place for money for a meal? I have. It's not a lot of fun. But it's not a crime.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 9:37 AM  

  • Wow, anonymous, you should think about getting your own blog. If there's that much angst bottled up inside you, you need your very own litterbox to contain it. Seriously.

    By Anonymous Trinity Parker, at 9:33 PM  

  • Calling me crazy smacks of Stalinism and the "re-education" technique of Mao. Thanks a lot, that's really "progressive" of you.

    I still haven't heard why begging as a lifestyle should be encouraged in Durham?

    I think there's a difference between a run of bad luck and an entrenched lifestyle that depends solely on begging. You know, like the fun "clientele" that populate 9th Street and help "keep it real" for the Duke students visiting Our Fair City. They go home to well-paying careers and "awesome" memories of "edgy" "D-town," while we're stuck with a public nuisance that no one seems to know what to do with.

    My understanding of an ordinance is a local law designed to protect the greater community. I think it would be a big mistake for word to get out that Durham is a great place for beggars.

    I guess the only way for that scenario to get on your nerves as much as it does on mine is for it to happen. So I'll wait.

    If you want to put orange vests on the in-town beggars, we may have a compromise on the table.

    Then I can cross the street ahead of time.

    And I bet you will, too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 PM  

  • First - who called you crazy?

    Second - outright banning of panhandling has almost always been held to against the Constitution of the US. I kinda like the Constitution. Maybe you don't?

    Third - in the last 5 nights i've been in Brightleaf Square, the Library, Five Points, and Ninth St. i have not been asked for a handout by a single person. Where are you spending your time that panhandling is such a critical issue in your life?

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 10:57 PM  

  • say what you will about the tenets of Stalinism, dude, but at least it was an ethos.

    Also, anon, you crazy. The incredibly scary panhandlers will be coming to take you away tomorrow. To the gulag. Where they will give you universal health care at the point of a gun. And then ask you for change really really hard.

    By Anonymous mathpants, at 10:59 PM  

  • Wow, glad to see there's going to be a ban, I hadn't heard of this. Of course, it's doubtful whether or not it will do much of anything.

    Oh, and btw, yeah, I was homeless once unfortunately, so I know the shame of asking for a handout. When you really need it, you do what ya gotta do, legal or not. Where I was, it wasn't legal either.

    I feel incredibly bad for the folks I see in Durham who really need the handout (and this includes the poor souls on the medians begging to be a traffic casualty). But the fact remains, this is a terrible practice to enable, and a poor solution to endemic poverty.

    In addition, many of the mendicants in Durham are aggressive professional (i.e. full-time) panhandlers who aim to intimidate as much as prevail upon your sympathy. They stalk single women (and others, I'm sure) down 9th St. going so far as to follow them into businesses regularly. They can easily be mistaken for muggers rather than just panhandlers at a distance. And often giving them money just makes them demand more because they "can't get a hamburger with that." If this new law helps lower their numbers, I'll be overjoyed. I've never seen such aggressive panhandling in any of the other cities I've lived in as I have in Durham.

    By Blogger MinTech, at 6:47 AM  

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